Tuesday, February 23, 1999

How To Pick an Estate Planning Attorney


Wow! What a response via e-mail I've received to Save, Invest & Then You Die. Most Fools out there wanted to know how to go about choosing an estate planning attorney. Now, this is a loaded question to ask me, as I should simply say, "Choose me!"

Unfortunately, I only practice in the state of Florida and cannot accommodate Fools from the other proud states in our great country. (David and Tom, are you interested in an Internet trust business? Just e-mail me to discuss!). In all seriousness, here is this attorney's view as to how to choose a qualified estate planning attorney:

1. Do not choose your attorney from an advertisement or from a seminar you may have been invited to. In the seminar situation, most of the time the attorney is doing a favor for an investment buddy who may be only trying to sell you "Wise" advice and products. Very unFoolish.

2. Do check with your state bar association to determine whether it has a "board certification program" and if so, whether it has a specialty in "wills trusts and estates." If so, obtain the names of the attorneys in your area who are so qualified.

3. Do check with your CPA (or CPA friends if you have any) and trust officers in local banks to determine who amongst the local attorneys they would recommend. (Warning: Many CPAs may not have many friends since they tend to live on the boring, uninteresting side of life. Who among us can listen to conversation centered on the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1997 and how that corresponds to why your Turbo tax won't correctly calculate the loss deduction on your unFoolish llama farm investments?)

4. Check with your friends who have accumulated wealth, or who have just used one of the attorneys whose name you have found in your searches above. Ask them about their experience.

Before every CPA who reads this e-mails me, I'm actually one of you as well. Please don't take my comments on antisocial behavior personally. It took three years of law school to permanently warp my brain into the outgoing, gregarious person I am today!

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